Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

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Cooking in your own kitchen for date night has this wondrous side result: you get to eat at home. There are no ever-louder-as-they-drink-more folks at the table next door and your comfy jeans are fine to wear all night long.

The love of my life, my fave sous chef in our kitchen.

The wine glasses happen to be the ones you like best, maybe purchased at an estate sale or while on a trip, or even inherited from your great-aunt. Music? Whatever you like, not what the restaurant manager thinks will best go over to all age groups. Hey–you also get to set the table or ask your partner or guest to do the honors while you stir up a little dinner.

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Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

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For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.

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Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

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There’s little to recommend a restaurant--any restaurant–on Valentine’s Day. There are exceptions, but often the specials are lackluster, the kitchen is slammed, the servers are exhausted by 7, the other diners are trying to pack a year’s worth of romance into one night (doesn’t work), and the prices are jacked up like the red roses at the florist. Instead, cook at home that night. And, while you’re at it, think about an IOU for the roses when they’re not $75 a dozen. Some quiet unknown evening in April or May, just pop in with them and call that good sense.

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Chili-Cheddar Biscuit Pizza

I’m not a big football fan. It’s just not my thing. But like many others, I honor the American institution and for Super Bowl you’ll often find me stretched out on the couch with the Sunday New York Times scattered around me and a glass of wine on the easy-to-reach end table. I even occasionally glance up to check the score, look at uniforms (which team is which color?), or comment on the commercials. As a cook, my main interest is in the half-time spread and that’s as it should be. As a musician, I often really enjoy the half-time show, and that cook persona gets her work done early so her singer self can enjoy what is surely the best part of the day. I mean, think Blues Brothers, Paul McCartney, and Lady Gaga as earlier favorites. Maroon 5 this year promises to be spectacular!

Complete Super Bowl Watching Info Here.

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French Onion Soup: Lost and Found

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            Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée–skip the story and get the recipe here

I married at 20 in 1974, and while I had a basic knowledge of cooking thanks to my food-loving parents, being in total charge of making sure there was food on the table for two people every day came as a bit of a shock.

After all, I had other things to do. There were two part-time jobs (one in a university office and one at a local restaurant–an old school red sauce place, by the way) and I went to school full time. I had a million books I wanted to read (and did) and I sang wherever and whenever I could. There were friends to hang out with, walks to take, dreams to make.  And I had to student teach sometime if I wanted to graduate!  What a body-blow it was to assume most of the burden for shopping, housework, and laundry because, well, that’s how things were despite my finest efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. There were more than a few battles over those things, you could rightly assume. Perhaps an issue or two still occasionally floats to the surface because, well, I guess life has to remain interesting and we’re sometimes still working something out.  (Who is cleaning out the laundry room this week, by the way?)

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INSTANT POT: Tuscan White Beans with Sausage, Chicken, and Greens

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I hope you had time between last week and this to make all my salads. Well, maybe you at least printed off a few recipes and are thinking in terms of trying one or two.

below:  our front yard vaguely winterish

If not, could be you’re freezing cold and ready for a fast hot meal of beans and meat in the Instant Pot (Did you get one for Christmas?), which of course could be done in a Dutch oven, a slow cooker, or in a B-flat pot on the stove top should you so choose.

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20 Main Dish Salads to Continue Your Healthy January Adventure

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{print recipe for Kalamata Egg Salad with Charred Red Peppers}

If you’re not trying to get healthy this month, you might still want to read this week’s post featuring main dish salads.  Even if all you managed to accomplish was to clear out your entire cellar’s store of Pinot Noir but skipped every red, green, and silver Hershey’s kiss you encountered (and so didn’t gain an ounce in December), you could drum up interest in hefty, heart-warming and filling whole meal salads–if nothing else but to figure out what to do with leftover steak (leftover steak?!), those couple of lonely pork chops, an oh-so-sad single portion of salmon, one languishing chicken breast with wing attached, or perhaps only a drawer full of vegetables and cheese with little else to recommend them but a poached egg or two and maybe a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

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25+ Scrumptious Dishes to Jump Start Your Healthy January

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Basil Sole on Greens with Parmesan-Tomato Salad                        {print recipe}

Every year on January 2, many people around the world wake up knowing they’re just one cookie away from a bigger pants size.  Gyms memberships rise, WW (Weight Watchers) Workshop chairs fill up, and dog walkers double their pet’s exercise along with their own. I began WW for the 4th (5th?) time just before the start of December, so while I didn’t wait until after the Christmas fudge tin was empty, I did move into this arena right upon finishing the last piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

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Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey and Bean Soup for New Year’s Day

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Sometimes holidays are not what you planned. Often they take on a life of their own. Perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about. Welcoming or being open to something new, something loving, maybe even moving on from what you thought you had to have.

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“Peaknut” Crinkles

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Each December for the last several years, I’ve dreamed up a Christmas cookie for the blog. This time, I might have found my very favorite–just in time for your weekend last-minute baking.  “Peaknut” Crinkles are a twist on the always-favorite Chocolate Crinkles so often made at holiday time.

My own crinkle recipe– pictured above–and this is a riff on that– is one I’ve made for years and I have no idea from whence it came.  More than once, I’ve really searched to discover its provenance, but the crinkle recipes I find are not like mine and so I have no idea. Thanks to that cookie baker I’ve never found!! Now, just so you know:  the difference between “my” recipe and the others is this:  mine uses melted chocolate and ALSO chocolate chips; every other one I locate is made with only cocoa.  So.   “My” Chocolate Crinkle Recipe.

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